'On another level': Fans erupt over grand final ‘genius’ Cam Smith

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, Cameron Smith celebrates his grand final try.
Cameron Smith scored a memorable try in what could be his final game in the NRL. Pic: Getty

If the 2020 grand final is indeed Cameron Smith's final match in the NRL, then the Melbourne Storm veteran was determined to go out with a bang.

Smith's Melbourne Storm got off to a flying start in the grand final against the Penrith Panthers, with two big calls going their way early on.

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The Storm were awarded a penalty try in just the fourth minute, despite the on-field referees ruling that Justin Olam had knocked on diving for the try line.

However, replays showed the Penrith defender Tyrone May used his outstretched leg to knock the ball loose.

The illegal act was correctly ruled a penalty try by the Bunker, which also denied the Panthers a try moments later because of obstruction.

Melbourne's Suliasi Vunivalu - playing his final match before switching to rugby union - scored a superb solo try from his own half after defusing a Panthers high ball and running the length of the field.

It was Smith's own try just before halftime that sent fans into a frenzy, with the Storm skipper capitalising on a strip from Apisai Koroisau right near Penrith's try line.

The veteran hooker regathered the ball, spotted the slightest gap and scurried over for a fairytale grand final try.

He converted his own four-pointer to give the Storm a formidable 22-0 lead at halftime.

The magical moment for the game's most-capped player sent fans wild on social media, with many tipping him to claim the Clive Churchill Medal.

Cleary award little consolation for Panthers

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the minor premiers were completely blown away on the biggest night of the year.

Penrith did have one small victory to celebrate, with halfback Nathan Cleary - who missed out on the Dally M Medal - declared the NRL's best in 2020 by his peers after claiming the Players' Champion award.

The Penrith halfback was named the Rugby League Players' Association's top gong before kick-off to Sunday night's grand final.

The 22-year-old edged out reigning champion James Tedesco for the top prize, after steering the Panthers to their first decider in 17 years.

Seen here, Nathan Cleary was voted the NRL players' player in 2020.
Nathan Cleary was voted the NRL's best player of 2020 by his peers. Pic: Getty

In doing so, he becomes the first Penrith player to win the prize outright, after Petero Civoniceva tied with Braith Anasta to claim it in 2008.

It comes after Cleary, despite being the heavy favourite going in, was beaten to Monday night's Dally M by Jack Wighton, with Clint Gutherson second.

with AAP

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